MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Spring-like morning, Winter returns this evening
CHANHASSEN, Minn. -- Although the temperatures across much of Minnesota will approach 60 degrees today (Mon), that will change rapidly this (Mon)evening and into tomorrow (Tue). Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen say that a winter storm is approaching that will include 20 to 35 mile per hour winds with gusts as high as 50. A wind advisory goes into effect virtually statewide at 1 p.m. until 10 a.m. tomorrow. Rain today is expected to change over to snow across north and central Minnesota this evening. The northwest corner of the state will be under a blizzard warning from 7 p.m. tonight until 7 a.m. tomorrow. The northland will be under a winter weather advisory for that same time period. Most areas of central and northern Minnesota will see one to three inches of snow. Southeast Minnesota may see isolated thunderstorms tonight, and wind gusts could hit 60 miles per hour.
Time to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act is running out, and officials are making the final push to get people enrolled. Those who aren't signed up by midnight (MON) may face a penalty. Interim CEO of the state's healthcare exchange MNsure, Scott Leitz, says there will be help for those who make a good faith effort to start the process but are not able to complete it by the deadline. More information can be found at MNsure's website. Leitz says the MNsure call center staff has been beefed up and hours extended to try and get as many people signed up as possible.
As the midnight deadline to sign up for healthcare through MNSure approaches, interim CEO Scott Leitz is preparing to appear before a US House oversight committee in Washington DC later this week (Thursday 10am). The hearing is called "Examining ObamaCare's Problem-Filled State Exchanges". In spite of the title, and MNSure's rocky rollout, Leitz says he plans to focus on the positive--including the enrollment of more than 150-thousand Minnesotans. Leitz says MNsure has improved tremendously over the course of the last few months and he's confident that consumers will have a good experience in the enrollment process moving forward.
A 25-year-old man rescued from an early morning house fire in St. Paul has died. Daniel Trabant was among seven people at the house when the fire broke out just before 6 a.m. yesterday (Sun). A second victim has been upgraded to stable condition. St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard says a working smoke alarm saved the lives of several young adults living in the home, but there was just one alarm installed and there should have been more. Zaccard says five people got out on their own through doorways, a sixth resident escaped out a second floor window, but Trabant did not make it out and died at the hospital. Zaccard says the cause of the fire appears to be an unattended candle in a second floor bedroom.
A church employee south of the Twin Cities is jailed for allegedly soliciting a minor electronically. The Pope County Sheriff's Office says 24-year-old Matthew Boos was arrested in Savage on Friday and is locked up in the Douglas County Jail. Few other details are being released, but Boos is a youth pastor with the River Valley Church system.
The bonding debate gears up this week at the Minnesota Legislature, with details of an 850-million-dollar borrowing package for state public works projects being unveiled tomorrow morning (Tues) in House committee. It's a good bet there will be money for convention center upgrades that Rochester, Saint Cloud and Mankato have been requesting for years. In addition to 850 million dollars in borrowing, House Democrats want to use 125 million dollars of the expected budget surplus, probably to pay for phase two of major renovations at the State Capitol building.
Only Iowa has been harder hit than Minnesota by the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, with more than 700 confirmed cases in the Gopher State. The virus appears to spread easier and more rapidly in the winter months. The USDA is currently reviewing how the current PEDV outbreak could possibly qualify for potential disaster assistance, and what help may be available to Minnesota producers.